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The Best of our "Top Picks" in a Single List

Gizmo's Best Top PicksThis is a hand-selected list of the best freeware products as judged by our editors.  All have won the coveted "Gizmo's Top Pick" award as the best freeware products in their class.

But to get into this list a product must have done more than win the Gizmo award; it must also have impressed our editors with its usefulness and professionalism.

There are some truly great products here, many as good as or better than their commercial counterparts.

We suggest you browse the whole list at your leisure as you may be surprised what gems you will discover. The pathologically impatient can use the category index below.

Software Category Index

Security: Best Free Security Software for PC

Cleanup & Tuning: Best Free Cleanup & Tuning Software for PC

Disk & File Tools: Best Free Disk & File Software for PC

Home & Office: Best Free Home & Office Software for PC

Image, View, & Edit: Best Free Image View and Edit Software for PC

Multimedia: Best Free Multimedia Software for PC

Internet & eMail: Best Free Internet, eMail & Messaging Software for PC

Networking & File Transfer: Best Free Connectivity & File Transfer Software for PC

System Tools and Info: Best Free System Software for PC

Desktop & GUI: Best Free Desktop & GUI Software

   The Editors' Choice Freeware List

Best Free Antivirus Software

  • Avira AntiVir Personal Edition: "My top pick if you're looking for the best protection against viruses. It is very light on resources and the detection rate of viruses and rootkits is outstanding."

Best Free Firewall

  • (Sunbelt-Kerio Personal Firewall: "It seems to cause the fewest problems for average users yet also manages reasonable protection. It doesn''t offer the protection of the best products but at least it is usable by ordinary folks ")
  • Online Armor (Comodo) Firewall: ("If performance rather than ease of use is your criterion, then Comodo is the top contender.") Class leading performance though not the easiest to setup and use. Comodo firewall comes in a very close second.

Best Free Browser Protection Utility

  • Sandboxie: "Creates a special sandbox environment on your PC [either for web browsing or any program]. So that within the virtual sandbox provided by Sandboxie the vital portions of your PC are totally isolated...  If set correctly, any spyware, trojans, keyloggers or other malware products that 'infect' your PC while browsing will be eliminated. It can cause problems on some PCs so backup before installing."

Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover

  • SuperAntiSpyware: "Nothing else even came close to the detection rate of SAS."
  • (MalwareBytes Anti-Malware: "Malwarebyte’s offering found an additional 28 threats that SAS had failed to detect. Most of these were Trojans, which suggests the two are aimed at slightly different threats".
  • For active prevention: Comodo BOClean and PC Tools Threatfire "both aim to stop malware entering your system in the first place."  Also check out Best Free Intrusion Prevention and Detection Utility for Home Use (HIPS) for more on Threatfire.

Best Free Trojan Scanner/Trojan Remover

  • a-squared Free: "It removes reliably the trojans containing backdoors, keyloggers, dialers and other destructive pests which make it dangerous to surf the web."

Best Free Rootkit Scanner/Remover

  • Panda Anti Rootkit: "It's my top recommendation for average users because it's not only good at detecting rootkits, but it's also quite effective at removing them." )

 Add TrueCrypt

Related Top Picks:

AxCrypt | OpenDNS | TrueCrypt | MailWasher | FREE Compusec | POPFile

Best Free PC Tune-up Utility

  • Advanced SystemCare Free: "Definitely the best choice if you want something simple that can clean your computer with a few clicks."

Best Free Disk De-fragmenter

  • Defraggler: "A solid combination of performance, stability and usability. Defraggler is incredibly easy to use and offers all the options you need to keep your machine running smoothly."

Best Free Registry Cleaner

  • EasyCleaner: "Historically, it has proven that it doesn't create problems.  Though, there is always a small risk that a registry cleaner may incorrectly remove data and produce an unstable PC, so be sure to backup your registry before using a registry cleaner whether by restore points or a utility like ERUNT."

Best Free File Cleaner

  • CC(c)leaner: "It's very effective in freeing up disk space by removing unused and temporary files, cookies, Recycle bin entries, Windows hot-fix files, old prefetch data, history and cache files in many applications... Additionally, it will check the Windows Registry for invalid entries."
  • (Empty Temp Folders: "It's not as complete a product as CCleaner and it's been a while since it was last updated, but I find that it always manages to clean more temporary files than CCleaner. That's why I suggest you use both.")

(Best Free Memory Optimizer

  • FreeRam XP: "A memory manager that not only works but also doesn't seem to cause problems; a rare combination."
  • CleanMem: "Very simple to operate -- installs automatically to run every 30 min via the windows task scheduler and cleans the memory out of all processes without any user input.")

Best Free Startup Manager

  • Startup Control Panel 2.8: "Small, easy to use, with powerful features including the ability to edit or add entries."
  • Autoruns: "The top recommendation for technical users."

Best Free Program Un-installer

  • (My Uninstaller: "A more capable product than the Windows version... My favorite feature is the ability to sort programs by the date installed which is great for quickly uninstalling programs.")
  • Revo Uninstaller: "It is the only freeware product I know of that will make a decent job of cleaning up a failed install."

 

Related Top Picks:

TCPOptimizer | jDiskReport | AM-DeadLink

Best Free Drive Imaging Program

  • Macrium Reflect Free: "Easy to use and a fast way to create a disk image.  Use it to return your PC to the exact state it had been in at the moment a disk image was created, thus saving maybe a day's work reinstalling and configuring all the programs."

Best Free Backup Program

  • WinBackup V1.86: "The best free data backup program available. It's not up to the standard of the best commercial products, but will still meet the needs of many average users."

Best Free Secure Erase Utility

  • Eraser: "It can overwrite the data area with your choice of a variety of random data patterns, and can also wipe data in the paging file, Internet cache, temporary files, Internet cookies, unused disk space, and other places where data can secretly lurk.

Best Free Data Recovery / File Un-delete Utility

  • PC INSPECTOR File Recovery: It's aimed at slightly more technically-advanced users but produces very impressive results. Indeed, it poses a direct challenge to its commercial rivals."

Best Free File Manager

  • xplorer² lite: A lot more functionality than Windows Explorer but with a user interface sufficiently similar to Explorer that  ("It offers much functionality of a Directory Opus (non freeware) and is totally free. As a bonus, it) user interface is very similar to Windows Explorer, so) most users will find this tool easy to learn and use.

Add Easeus Partition Manager

Add 7-Zip

Add SyncToy

Add Bulk Rename utility

Related Top Picks:

EASEUS Partition Manager | 7-Zip | Duplicate Cleaner | SyncToy & Allway Sync | Driver Max | Active@ HD Monitor | Bulk Rename Utility

Best Free PDF Writer

  • Bullzip: "It has more of the options I need and has worked flawless for me."

Best Free Software Suite

  • Liberkey: "A true 'Swiss Army Knife' of free programs that comes in three sizes: basic (28 programs), standard (100 programs) and ultimate (200 programs)."
  • Add Open Office

Best Free Personal Finance Software

  • GnuCash: "If you're looking for a quick education in double entry bookkeeping look no further."

Best Free PDF Tools

  • PDFill PDF Tools: "Clean and nice user interface, includes most features such as merge, split, reorder, rotate, header and footer with page number, watermark, encrypt and decrypt, convert PDF to images or vice versa, convert PostScript to PDF." 

 Add Foxit Reader or PDF XChange

Related Top Picks:

Jarte | Palm Desktop | OpenOffice.org 3 | Foxit Reader | Task Coach | Open Workbench | e-Sword | Personal Ancestral File | Evernote U3 | AZZ Cardfile

Best Free Digital Image Viewer

  • XnView: "Fast, lots of features, very manageable, many plug-ins, supports nearly any OS."
  • IrfanView: "This product is first-class and a real winner.  It's amazingly capable and fast at displaying images.  Although many users just love it, I have mixed feelings about it."

Best Free Digital Image Editor

  • (GIMPshop: "It can use all GIMP plugins and has a good look and feel -- similar to Photoshop."
  • The Gimp: "For experienced users or if you are patient enough to learn the product's occasional 'quaint' ways, then you may not need to consider anything else.")
  • Add Paint.net

Best Free High Dynamic Range (HDR) Software

  • Qtpfsgui: "Comes out slightly ahead of the several HDR software packages.  It has great tone-mapping and aligning facilities, allows 8, 16 and 32 bit channels and two means of manually manipulating the image." 

(Best Free Paint Program

  • Project DogWaffle: "A great total artistic program to get, with realistic paint effects and frame-based animation tool.")

Best Free Digital Photo Organizer

  • Picasa 3: "Simply sensational, ... with editing features that provide you with every function amateur photographers need."

 

Related Top Picks:

Noiseware Community Edition & Helicon Filter | Inkscape | Microsoft ICE (Imade Composite Editor) | Color Cop

Best Free CD / DVD Burning Software

  • CDBurnerXP: "A top choice for average users who want a capable, easy-to-use burner provided they don't want to burn double layer disks and a lot of video CDs."
  • ImgBurn: "Better choice for experienced users and those who need to burn double layer disks or Blu-ray. Immensely capable product, with flexible video burning options and all the features of CDBurnerXP."

Best Free Audio / Video Format Conversion Program

  • Super: "It has two great strengths: first, it's reasonably easy to use, and secondly, it handles a large number of different file formats."

Best Free Media Player

  • Media Player Classic: "This program packs a lot of features, including codecs for viewing DVD discs, MPEG1, MPEG2, and MPEG 4 video files, MP3 and Ogg files...If you want to extend MPC's functionality download ffdshow, Real Alternative, QuickTime Alternative and WinAmp Alternative packages."

Best Free Music Player and Organizer

  • Teen Spirit: "Intuitive and user-friendly interface, excellent library for music/video managing or playlisting, interesting download capabilities of associated artist photos/bios, song lyrics, etc."

Best Free MP3 Tag Editor

  • TagScanner: "Support basic and extended tags, complete with Music Renamer and Tag Processor. Preview tags and cover arts from online database before saving."

Best Free CD / DVD Emulation Software

  • Gizmo Drive: "Support up to 26 virtual drives, create ISO image, burn ISO files or folders to recordable disks, complete with Gizmo Manager and Image Wizard to perform tasks."

Best Free Online TV Viewer

  • JLC's internet TV viewer: "A simple, but effective streams viewer that doesn't have much overhead.

Best Free Streaming Media Recorder

  • CamStudio: "My personal favorite for on-screen capture because the output is in the more widely used .AVI and .FLV formats."

Add Exact Audio Copy

Add Audacity

Add VirtualDub

 

Related Top Picks:

IsoBuster | Exact Audio Copy | Audacity | Speedbit Video Accelerator | DVD Profiler | VirtualDub

Best Free Web Browser

  • Mozilla Firefox 3.0: "It browses a tad faster than IE, is very stable and more standards compliant.  It has thousands of Add-Ons to enhance the program and is very secure."

Best Free Anonymous Surfing Service

  • OperaTor: "A portable version of Opera with a well integrated Tor engine that uses the free Tor network.  Also it is small and relatively fast."

Best Free Email Client

  • Mozilla Thunderbird: "Customizable and expandable through add-ons, intuitive user interface." 

Best Free Download Manager

  • Gigaget: "The fastest by far to download files, monitor major browsers and clipboard, resume/pause download, import/export list, data transfer encryption, and classification of downloaded files."

(Best Free HTML Editor

  • KompoZer: "Full featured WYSIWYG editor and our top recommendation for newbies.")

 

Related Top Picks:

Digsby | Google Web Accelerator | RoboForm | FeedDemon | YPOPs! | MailStore Home

Best Free BitTorrent Client

  • Vuze (formerly Azureus): "Cross platform, informative interface, wide variety of plugins, excellent support and the Vuze platform of legal content that downloads at high speeds."
  • µTorrent: "Small, efficient (lowest memory use of all clients), many features and excellent support." 

Best Free Remote Access Software

  • UltraVNC: "Active development, good forum support and excellent encryption plug-in."

Add FireFTP or CoreFTP Lite

Related Top Picks:

FireFTP | Network Stumbler | WireShark | 3D Traceroute | Dave's Telnet & PuTTY | HFS

Best Free Software Update Monitor

  • Software Update Monitor (SUMo): "The advantage of SUMo is that it informs you of updates to a wide range of software.  It's not limited to security updates (such as PSI) or availablity on CleanSofts.org or FileHippo.com."
  • Secunia's Personal Software Inspector (PSI): "For those of you that are only interested in patching insecure software and do not require the updates that are not security related."

Best Free Screen Capture Utility

  • Gadwin PrintScreen: "It does exactly what I want, in the way I want, and it avoids the trap of providing a lot of useless and confusing features."

Best Free System Information Utility

  • System Information for Windows (SIW): "My current favorite for home use."

 

Related Top Picks:

Registrar Lite | Process Explorer | Memtest86+ | ArsClip | System Scheduler | NetMeter | Spotlight on Windows | AMP Font Viewer | Sharpe Shell

Best Free Virtual Desktop Manager

  • Dexpot: "I have to recommend Dexpot due to its attractive interface, ease of use, various language versions and features list."

 

Related Top Picks:

TClock Lite | Launchy | Stickies | Copernic Desktop Search | Vista Start Menu | World Clock | AutoHotkey

Still reading? Here are some more goodies for you.

Check out these other articles and lists on our site. There are so many hot suggestions here you will be glad you kept reading and clicking. :)

 
Still want more?  By now, I bet you do!  So go ahead and check the rest of our site.

 

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